As you probably heard by now, the “Father of Rock n’ Roll,” CHUCK BERRY was found dead in his home in St. Louis on Saturday, March 18, 2017. He was 90 years old. The “Shakespeare of Rock n’ Roll.” He was born on October 18, 1926 in St. Louis and got his musical start playing in pianist Johnnie Johnson’s Trio. Soon, he traveled to Chicago and on the suggestion of Muddy Waters, auditioned for Leonard Chess. On May 21, 1955, BERRY cut “Maybellene” on his first professional recording session for Chess. The single hit #1 R&B and #5 Pop and established CHUCK BERRY as the spokesman for a whole new market of record buyers: Black and White teens…hungry for music about girls, cars, school and topics that they could relate to. BERRY delivered with tunes like, “Sweet Little Sixteen,” “Little Queenie,” “School Day,” “Roll Over Beethoven,” “Almost Grown” and countless other Rock n’ Roll classics. BERRY had 3 #1 R&B hits, but only ONE #1 Pop hit and that came in ’72 with his version of “My Ding-A-Ling,” which only hit #42 R&B. I personally feel that “Roll Over Beethoven” is CHUCK’s greatest contribution to American Music. Chuck Berry’s name will always be synonymous with Rock n’ Roll and vice versa. He is the very definition of “legend” and his guitar licks and songwriting craft will live on forever. Rock n’ Roll hit the mainstream in 1955 when Chuck Berry rewrote the “Hot Rod Race” for teens with “Maybellene.” Now THEY had THEIR own music and there was nothing that anyone could do about it. Chuck Berry lit the fire and the fuse has continued to burn and will continue to burn as long as there are kids picking up guitars and people who want to dance. -MtC
We lost the legendary Riley B. King on the evening of May 14, 2015 at the age of 89. B.B. died at his home in Las Vegas. Riley B. King was born in Indianola, MS on September 16, 1925. He permanently moved to Memphis in 1948 and was soon broadcasting on all-black radio station WDIA. By the early ’50s, he was cutting sides with Sam Phillips at the Memphis Recording Service (before Phillips started Sun Records) and The Bihari Brothers’ RPM Records was issuing them. He scored his first #1 in 1951 with Lowell Fulson’s “Three O’Clock Blues,” and the rest is history. Dig on my 55 audio obit below highlighting B.B.’s great musical achievements from 1951 to the present. He was one in a million and our last connection to the “true” blues. He leaves an incredible body of work and a huge void in American Music.